Suffering with an addiction feels like being trapped in a room with a vanishing door.
Sometimes you don’t want to find the door. After all, the room is warm, with nice chairs and chic decor. There are no surprises.
Your friends are there from time to time, but somehow they seem to be able to come and go as they please.
Occasionally the door appears. You walk outside. You look down and discover you are only wearing underwear, you don’t know where you are, and it’s blowing a hurricane outside. You are not prepared for this. Also you feel like crap and you are tired.
So you run back into the safety of the room. You are relieved. You can try again tomorrow, after all.
But then the door vanishes again. For a month. Or a year. Or 5 years. Perhaps you start to forget that a world exists outside of these four walls. But eventually, you begin to hate the room. You begin to hate yourself. You wonder what is so wrong with you that you can’t leave like others seem to.
Perhaps you share the room with someone you love, and they desperately want you to stay. They themselves might not be bothered about finding the door or seeing the outside world, so don’t see what all the fuss is about. Maybe they feel betrayed by your attempts to leave the room. Maybe you start questioning whether your room is really all that bad a place (you try to overlook the cracks that have appeared in the walls, the broken furniture and the lack of daylight).
You are confused. When you first visited, you walked in willingly, because it looked fun. You wandered in and out as you pleased, like your friends, not even considering whether there WAS a door, or if it might disappear from view.
You never imagined that you would get trapped here for a decade or more.
How do you find the door? And how do you weather the storm outside the room?
The answer is different for each person.
I think the key is in believing that change is possible, even if the path behind you is littered with failures.
Firstly, understand this: thousands of people before you have failed in their attempts to leave the room called addiction 100 times, only to succeed in their 101st attempt. Be willing to start before you are ready. Try again. And again. And again. Tenacity is not about success or failure at a specific point. It is about trying again. Trying in different ways.
Don’t give up hope.
Secondly, realise that you don’t have to face the storm alone, because there are hundreds of thousands of people stepping into that same storm with you. Who knew! So many neighbours around the globe are trying to leave their rooms, too, at this exact moment!
Thirdly, educate yourself about addiction and addiction recovery. When you understand the beast, you can step back from it, observe it, outsmart it, destroy it. When you don’t understand it, it will outsmart you. It is clever. But with information, you are cleverer.
You have this one life. Ask yourself, do you want to spend it in this room?
Trust that there is something waiting for you beyond the storm.
Something a lot better than that shitty little room, even if sometimes it’s the opposite of easy. Without this addiction, life will look quite different. It might feel like a barren landscape for a while, without the shelter of the room. But soon you will begin to build your own city on these plains, a city where you will remember to leave doors open.
Remember, life was never meant to be easy. Changing addictive behaviour is difficult. But trust me- it’s achievable.
And then, once you’ve gathered a little strength, and with a little help from others, you can take a wrecking ball.
And obliterate the fucking room.